Saying his campaign may yet surprise people is Chris Amaral, another candidate for the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors, District 2.
Asked why he’s running so soon after losing in the primary to Bill Schultz for the job of Recorder-Clerk, Amaral said he’s a big proponent of public service and has a unique skill set to bring to the job.
“I’ve spent the last two decades in the private sector working with government agencies to make them more efficient and I think I have something to offer,” he said.
Discussing his background and qualifications for the job, Amaral said he has lived in the county most of his life with his voluntary service primarily being with nonprofits and his church. His educational credentials include two years at American River College and a degree in business management from the University of Phoenix. He also took an online executive finance course offered by Harvard University.
Currently he works for a company called Accenture which is the old Arthur Andersen accounting firm. He also worked for seven years for a state student loan consortium which turned into the Educational Credit Management Corp.
“I think everyone would agree that you need a little private sector in the public sector,” he said, noting that he has firsthand experience with the best practices in both sectors, with his private sector experience making him very results-oriented.
Asked about his approach to being a supervisor, Amaral repeatedly emphasized that if elected he wouldn’t come to the job with any particular agenda. Instead he’s drawing his ideas from canvassing residents and asking what’s important to them. “I’m having them craft my messaging. If I’m going to represent them, they need to be a part of that,” he said.
Asked about what he would do to improve the county’s economy, Amaral doesn’t think there is need for any more rooftops. Instead what we need is more jobs and economic vitality, he said, as he referred to the El Dorado Hills Business Park as a “ghost town.”
We need to offer businesses incentives to relocate there which might include such things as offsetting utility bills, a streamlined process for moving in, help in applying for capital or tax breaks, he said.
Amaral also favors a satellite university for the county. “I have four children and I want them to go to school, work and live here,” he said. “The biggest issue here is we export our children to other counties.”
The candidate also stressed the need for more investment in the county’s infrastructure. We need to invest in communications and emergency services, he said. We also can’t bring in a satellite university without the high-speed internet infrastructure. Many people these days are telecommuting and high-speed internet in the county would help those who work from their homes, he said.
As for the different initiatives on the ballot, Amaral said he leaves that to the voters to decide. Personally he favors Measure M and is against large developments like San Stino and Marble Valley as they are presently configured.
There are already 15,000 to 16,000 available parcels in the county, he said, but it’s too expensive to build. He favors reducing the TIM (Traffic Impact Mitigation) fees to cut back on the cost. This goes back to economic opportunity in the county, he said. We need to do infill first with these massive developments at the bottom of the list, he said.
Asked about development in the south county, Amaral believes that social media can help promote wine tourism in the area. At the same time he said there needs to be an investment in infrastructure, noting the recent Sand Fire highlighted the lack of broadband and cell service. “How can we get people to come up here if infrastructure is not in place?” he said.
Amaral was also asked how he would get the Board of Supervisors to work together better. “I would lead by example,” he said, saying he would do so by bringing his consulting background to the job. “I would leverage technology by holding virtual town hall meetings.” Doing so would encourage other members of the board to do likewise. He also said he would cut down on the length of the board agenda by prioritizing items as many are purely administrative in nature.
Amaral went on to say that while he is new to the political scene, he believes he has a lot to bring in terms of an unbiased view and no particular agenda. It starts with administration, managing the General Plan and effective communication and those are all bipartisan activities, he added.
“I also bring a different skill set to the job which makes me a better candidate,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of success in the private sector. A lot of hands on experience. I stay away from political divisions and try to work with everybody.”